The In-Between: Non-Measuring Wannabe Chef Cooks Fresh, Sustainable Haddock

Cooking with fish is something I’d fantasize about, thinking, “Oh why even bother buying other proteins?  Fish is where it’s AT.”  Then, I’d go ahead and buy the family pack of chicken breasts, tiptoe past the fish counter, glance at the prices and think, “Oh man. I can’t. Too expensive.”  Now, is it really too expensive?  I don’t know.  It seemed that way.  Did you ever feel that pressure, whether you’re a household of two, or four, or seven, to know just how much to buy?  I felt that way all of the time.  So I’d just say, “Forget it,” and chicken out.  Like, truly chicken out, with the chicken breasts.

That was the old me!  That was me before I lived in a small Italian town and had to use hand gestures and grunts to order two hundred grams of prosciutto.  Really, two hundred grams- what does that even mean?!  So that, plus, in Nova Scotia, chicken is some weird, overpriced delicacy, which means I’m already counting the days until I can have a post-Buffalo wedding Jim’s Steakout Chicken Finger Sub.  YEAH BABY.

Back to the topic- fish.  Now that I’m living the fresh fish life, I’ll be cooking a lot more of it.  I know it’s quick, I know it’s relatively easy, but that doesn’t mean I know how to make it well.  I started very, very simple with our first Off the Hook fillets of haddock.  Here is the recipe, which you need to know isn’t really a recipe because I’m a “throw everything in the pot and taste for what it needs” kind of girl.  You’ll probably never find exact measurements here, sorry.  I hope other non-cook cookers out there appreciate the humility of my (mis)adventures.

MEDITERRANEAN STYLE BAKED HADDOCK

Approximates (Warning: not a cooking blog!!!)

  • Half a head of garlic, chopped (about 5-6 cloves)… we like a LOT of garlic!
  • Half of a small, yellow onion, chopped
  • 3/4 container of cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 cup of olives, chopped (I used Kalamata and green, Greek style olives from the olive bar)
  • Juice from half of a lemon
  • Olive oil (for various sauteeting, brushing, etc. Just eyeball it!)
  • 1 cup of Italian style breadcrumbs, mixed with Parmigiano-Reggiano (optional)

Preheat the oven to about 400 degrees for tomato roasting.  Halve the tomatoes, toss with olive oil, salt, and pepper, and roast for approximately 25 minutes or until tomatoes are lightly browned and “roast-wrinkled.”  That’s an official cooking term, use it.  Reset the oven to 350 for your fish.  Meanwhile, sauté onions and garlic with olive oil, until garlic is lightly browned and onions are translucent.  When the tomatoes are done roasting, toss em in that pan for optimal flavor-meshing.  Set aside and cover.  Cut up your olives and set aside.

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Rinse the haddock and double check for tiny bones.  Line a cooking sheet with tin foil, spray or brush foil with olive oil, and spread your fillets a few inches apart.  Drizzle lemon juice on each piece of fish, and sprinkle with an eyeballed amount of salt and pepper.  Equally divide the tomato/onion/garlic mixture onto the fillets.  Then add the olives to the fillets that will be eaten by people who know what’s good for them (seriously, the olives made the topping!)  I only topped a piece and a half with olives.  You’re welcome, hubby!  Bake the haddock for 15-18 minutes, depending on your oven.

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STOP!!!! YOU FORGOT THE BREADCRUMBS.  Hastily mix the breadcrumbs with some shredded Parmigiano-Reggiano and sprinkle it over the fillets.  Place back in the oven.  Shake your head.

Serve fillets with a delicious side like roasted sweet potatoes.  Re-evaluate your plan.

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Things I’d change for next time: 

  • Would cook the fillets in a deeper dish, probably in a pool of butter.
  • I’d make the leap- either pre-bread the haddock or not, leaving it out all together.  Sometimes I get nervous and make the wrong choice.  It still tasted fine.
  • I need to pay a little more attention to the prep of the actual fish.  It tasted good, but could have tasted better had I done more with the fillets, done less with the topping.  Life is about lessons, no?

Leftovers:

The husband took charge of fish tacos the next night.  Of course, it automatically was better because I’m not the one who cooked it.  He wanted to grill the fish, but ended up having to throw the haddock in a pan when we discovered the lake house grill was out of gas.  No one really lives here during the year.  This caused the fish to flake apart a little too easily, but it still worked.  Hubs also marinated the fish ahead of time in some oil, citrus, and seasonings.  He made a cabbage slaw and guacamole to go along with his dish.  Good work, chef.  You win this one.

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